I first came in contact with Jon Chang through his grindcore and thrash bands (GridLink, Hayaino Daisuke, and Discordance Axis), whose subject matter ranges from hardcore anime allusions, to hard sci-fi and obscure horror references, to no-holds-barred observations on war. It’s the latter that provides the content of Chang’s first comic book. Black Powder \\ Red Earth tells the story that Chang’s company’s Facebook game is based upon. It’s as obsessive in its details account of private security contracting in the Middle East as it is gripping with its political thriller tone. With the first book out now and three more on the way, I figured this was a good time to touch base with Chang about his publishing effort with co-writer Kane Smith and illustrator Josh Taylor.
When I interviewed Jon Chang for Giant Robot 56 in 2008, I was under the impression that there was no way I’d ever get to see his bands GridLink or Haiyano Daisuki. Jon was busy with his work in videogames and his family, and his bands are spread across continents. The mastermind behind the insanely technical, fast-as-shit otaku-influence brand of grindcore and thrash couldn’t guarantee a tour ever happening, so I settled for a phoner. Just like his music, Chang was intense, honest, interested in everything, and sometimes even humble. “People are lucky to make one or two great things in their life,” he told me. “The second Yamato film is amazing and the rest are good but don’t approach it. And Slayer made Reign in Blood and continue to make good music, but are they ever going to make another Reign in Blood?”